As I’m sure you know by now, Google Ads retired one of their original metrics (average position) back in September of 2019. This was a significant change, as many advertisers found average position to be a critical metric during optimization efforts. For some, average position was a simple way to determine where your ads appeared amongst your competitors. While it was valuable in that regard, it was also a flawed metric as it didn’t tell you exactly where you were appearing on the SERP. You could have an average position of 1.3, but you may have been showing for only 20% of available impressions and missing out on plenty of opportunity.
In this article, we will discuss why we won’t miss average position (and why you shouldn’t either) and what critical metrics we should focus on moving forward.
Out with the Old, in with the New
Average position is gone, so no need to bore you with its definition and how it was calculated. Time to move on! The focus now should be on these four metrics:
- Search top impression rate – Search top impression rate “Impr. (Top) %” is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
- Search absolute top impression rate – Search absolute top impression rate “Impr. (Abs.Top) %” is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
- Search top impression share – Search top impression share “Search top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
- Search absolute top impression share – Search absolute top impression share “Search abs. top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
So what does all that mean? When Google originally made this announcement, they included the following graphic to help illustrate how we should be evaluating these metrics moving forward. See here (image from Google):
References to Top speak to ads that appear above organic results and Absolute Top speaks to ads that appear as the very first ad above the organic results. Knowing the percentage of time you are showing above the organic results or as the number one ad is extremely valuable. These metrics should be used every time you or your account manager is evaluating bid optimizations or campaign performance.
Now What? Show Me the Numbers!
Let’s evaluate keyword performance alongside the four visibility metrics we discussed. To apply this to a real-life example, assume your Google Ads campaign needs to be optimized towards a $45 CPA. How aggressive should you be with bids? By leveraging the visibility metrics for impression rate and impression share, you’ll have a much clearer picture of how aggressive your bid optimizations should be. Please find some sample keyword data below:
In this example keyword 2 and keyword 3 seem like great opportunities for bid increases considering their current CPA are under goal (28% headroom and 47% headroom respectively). Upon a closer look, you’ll see why the opportunity for one is greater than the other.
While keyword 2 is well under goal (by about 28%), top impression share (94%) and top impression share (89%) indicate we are already plenty aggressive on this term. Any additional increases will likely cause self-inflicted harm by inflating our CPCs. Keyword 3, on the other hand, is a whopping 47% under goal and is sitting at just a 59% top impression share, indicating plenty of opportunity for traffic and lead volume growth.
While no one likes change, especially within Google Ads, this one appears to be harmless. With the additional top and absolute top metrics, we get a much deeper understanding of where our ads are appearing, and how often. Leverage these moving forward to make sure your best performing ads are maximizing their visibility on the SERP.
If you’re looking for assistance managing your Google Ads and/or other performance marketing campaigns, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 781-591-0752.